Seems that my mini-review of Nik Silver Efex for Aperture sparked a mild amount of interest from a couple of people that haven't done a whole lot of black and white conversions to date, are interested in the Silver Efex plug-in and wanted a little bit more info.Of course they pointed out the flaws in my quick and dirty review of the software. One guy even asked if I ever shoot any thing that I have to walk more than 10 feet from my desk to shoot. He was kidding (I hope).
The consensus question was if it was worth the cash. I really hate to make those kind of value judgements for other people, the variables are so different for everyone. I will weigh in on the "worth it" just a little bit for Silver Efex Pro only because it is a non-trivial investment and it has some pretty narrow functionality compared to say a Photoshop CS4 or Lightroom or Aperture 2. My opinion is that it is worth it if you use it. Use meaning a lot of things. I will rephrase a couple of things from my original review to be clear. If you like black and white photography but the software you are using it not cutting it then Silver Efex is probably worth the money. If you do a heck of a lot of black and white and Silver Efex could save you a lot of time then it is worth the money. I did say that it was the best black and white conversion software that I have ever used. I bought it and I was quite satisfied with using all of the bag of tricks in Photoshop that I have developed over the years. Then again I am a nut.
I guess you should try it - Nik does have a free trial version. See what you think. If you like black and white but rather shoot digital and not mess around with film and a darkroom you should definitely do the free trial. Like all of the Nik software this has some depth and deserves some dedicated time behind the wheel rather than a couple of clicks here and there so start the eval when you will have time to do it justice.
The bigger flaw that a few people pointed out was that they had a hard time visualizing what Istarted with for the image that I included with the review. I apologize for that, looking back on it I was stupid not to include the starting color digital image so here it is. Not only that but you can have the whole RAW NEF file as well so you can examine the color, black and white versions that Aperture does as well as what Nik can do in all of the glorious 100% detail if you want. You can even take a look at the strange 12-24 lens distortion if you want and see how the brand spanking new Nikon Capture NX2 automatically knows how to correct it based on a database of Nikon lenses included with it. You gotta love NX2 sometimes. Obviously I didn't use NX2 for this conversion.
I even went way out of my way, walked out my front door, across a dirt road, and through some grass to make this image for all of you today. I guess that was about 150 feet. Have fun.
Ps. What would really be fun is to see some reader black and white interpretations of the same image. I will bet dollars to doughnuts that they will be different than mine.